A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor
of Philosophy at of George Mason University By Jessica R. Lang, Master of Arts George Mason University, 2004
According to some authors, occupying this position brought great internal strife for the more radical members of the New York Intellectuals. As Hilton Kramer describes, “Least of all, then, in the case of those writers for whom radical sentiment remained a badge of virtue even when they had abandoned radical politics, was it easy for the New York intellectuals themselves to accept this situation. While enthusiastically embracing the rewards which their new status brought them—professorships in the universities, staff jobs on The New Yorker, and the loving attention of the media—they were nonetheless
haunted by the specter of the radical vocation and possessed by the rhetoric it had bequeathed to them. Which is why the political and cultural upheavals of the Sixties represented such a crisis for the New York intellectuals, and in fact marked the termination of their movement. Whether or not they still professed to be radicals or were openly opposed to the Left or were becalmed somewhere in between, the New York intellectuals belonged unmistakably to the bourgeois establishment as far as the new radicals of the Sixties were concerned.” For more information, see “Writing the History of the New York intellectuals” in The New Criterion.
This quote is taken from “The Port Huron Statement,” a document written by the Students for a Democratic Society” (SDS). Although I will be discussing the SDS in further detail on the following pages, it’s worth noting that this quote represents the group’s more mild criticism of academia. Other charges they issue include, “But the actual intellectual effect of the college experience is hardly distinguishable from that of any other communications channel -- say, a television set -- passing on the stock truths of the day”; and: “The real campus, the familiar campus, is a place of private people, engaged in their notorious ‘inner emigration.’ It is a place of commitment to business-as-usual, getting ahead, playing it cool. It is a place of mass affirmation of the Twist, but mass reluctance toward the controversial public stance. Rules are accepted as ‘inevitable’, bureaucracy as 'just circumstances’, irrelevance as ‘scholarship’, selflessness as ‘martyrdom’, politics as ‘just another way to make people, and an unprofitable